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Inspired by…

by Folksy Support

The first of a collection of four personal stories about the talented people who inspire our creative lives.

Sometimes it takes more than our own resources to pluck up the courage to follow our hearts, whether it is your mother, grandmother, teacher or best friend it seems there is often a certain individual that above all others has inspired us or spurred us on to make more of our creative lives.

We were keen to write this short blog series after receiving a fascinating email from a friend of the Folksy team @MrsEmilyBarnes, a mum of 3 from Derbyshire. Emily was sorting through some vintage sewing patterns that she had discovered and we asked if she could tell us a little bit more about the history behind them…

“I’ve had the pleasure recently of going through boxes full of “junk” that have been hiding in my parents attic for the last 40 years. One of the most wonderful things I came across this week was Mums box of vintage sewing patterns. Born in 1948, Mum was lucky enough to grow up just as fashion began to break away from tradition and become exciting & accessible for young people. So these patterns are a damn good find.

For Mum these sewing patterns were a way of achieving high fashion looks at a reasonable price. Whilst all her friends were buying high street Mary Quant copies, for around 5 shillings, a few metres of fabric and a bit of time, Mum would have her own authentic Mary Quant outfit for the next Kinks gig. Totally original, unique and handmade.

She was very much a “maker”, always looking for the next creative adventure and these sewing patterns gave her a constant stream of projects. She was telling me how much she adored fabric hunting with my Grandma, the excitement she felt when she found a length of Bernat Klein fabric at a discount price – a high quality designer fabric that she went on to make an entire suit out of. Hunting for the perfect piece of fabric has got to be half the fun?

It’s been a while since I’ve made my own clothes and to be honest I’ve never made anything more difficult than a simple paneled skirt. By coincidence I was given my first sewing machine this christmas and now I have something wonderful to aim for. Although my first sewing project may be a simple draught excluder for my friend, by next summer I’ll be tottering down the high street in my new, homemade, vintage shift dress (with a little help from Mum maybe….)

I asked Emily if she would tell us a little more about herself.

“I come from a LONG line of creatives & have always been encouraged to “make” stuff; knitting, ceramics, cards, photography etc etc. I have no formal training other than in film & television (I worked in tv before having the kids) so my artistic endeavours have never been more than the bits of pottering about I’ve done at home.  My new year resolution was to “step out of my comfort zone” and try some new things. Getting going on my new sewing machine is on that list and I made my first cushion cover yesterday!!! I have my eye on some of mums vintage patterns as a goal for this year. I’m also writing a little blog about my year of trying new things; mrsemilybarnes.wordpress.com

From a life changing event, a lightbulb moment on a walk in the woods or maybe just sorting through your mums craft stash like Emily, inspiration comes from all around us.    Stepping outside your comfort zone and making a leap into the unknown with a new course or a career change can be petrifying, but (with hindsight) it  is usually an extremely rewarding and exhilirating experience.


As this collection of stories grows we’d love to hear your own stories too, especially about  the inspiring creatives in your own lives – please leave us a comment and join in the conversation :)

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1 comment

Tim May 7, 2011 - 12:13 pm

I really like these retro chic designs!
I think they are really coming back into fashion as I have seen it within other industries!

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